Well, this is awkward. Verizon has agreed a deal to sell its "Verizon Media" unit — including Engadget — to the investment firm Apollo Global Management for $5 billion. Verizon will retain a 10-percent stake in the company, which will be named Yahoo.
Verizon Media was the result of several acquisitions the telecoms giant made in an attempt to become a major player in the online advertising market. In 2015, the company bought AOL — which owned Engadget alongside other news sites like HuffPost, TechCrunch and Autoblog — for $4.4 billion and then added Yahoo to the fold in 2017 in a $4.48 billion deal. Following the Yahoo acquisition, Verizon created a new division named "Oath" to house its media and advertising properties. By the end of 2018, Verizon had laid off over 40,000 Oath employees, written off over half of the division's value and killed the name Oath in favor of the less-funny "Verizon Media."
In the years since, Verizon Media has largely coalesced around the Yahoo brand publicly, while continuing to streamline its operations. After falling well short of expectations for many years, the division had begun to show "double-digit" revenue growth in the past two quarters. Verizon agreed to sell HuffPost to BuzzFeed in late 2020, and the deal completed in early 2021.
It's unclear whether Apollo shares our keen interest in tech news, reviews and analysis, but the more likely motivator behind the deal is Verizon Media's ad tech assets, along with the large Yahoo Mail, Sports and Finance businesses.
David Sambur, senior partner and co-head of private equity at Apollo, said that the firm believes in "the growth prospects of Yahoo and the macro tailwinds driving growth in digital media, advertising technology and consumer internet platforms,” adding that the firm has “a long track record of investing in technology and media companies.”
The deal is expected to conclude in the second half of 2021, and we'll let you know our new owner's opinion on foldable iPhone rumors in due course.